5 Reasons You Need To Take A Mindful Break During WFH Lunches
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
16 August 2021
With WFH completely blurring the lines between work and home, it’s often too easy to have lunch while working, without taking a meaningful break. However tempting as it might be to work through lunch to get more done, not taking a lunch break is detrimental to health and sanity, and can actually make you less productive when you don’t give your brain an opportunity to recuperate. With only a finite amount of productive work hours each day, there is little value in stealing time from your lunch if it’s going to make you less creative and more likely to make mistakes, all while pushing you towards burnout and an unhealthy work-life balance.
Here are five reasons you need to make time for a healthy WFH lunch:
1. A mindful break increases concentration
In many industries, lunch breaks are getting shorter and shorter, or even nonexistent. According to a survey by workplace consulting group Right Management, only one in five office workers are taking an actual lunch break away from their desk. Yet taking even just a 15-20 minute lunch break is a proven way to improve and sustain concentration and energy levels throughout the day. According to psychology research done at the University of California, not taking a break from work that requires careful thought and concentration on a daily basis, actually reduces our ability to be creative, as each little task and decision we make during work gradually deplete our psychological resources. In essence, the absence of a mindful midday break exhausts cognitive capacity, not allowing the brain to make creative connections in its exhausted state. Even just a few minutes of a mindful break can make a difference.
2. Negative effect on physical health
Wolfing down your lunch at your desk means that you might effectively be overworked. It's no surprise that being stressed on the job leads to burnout and a decline in physical health, since you’re pretty much sedentary for most of the day. Furthermore, looking at a screen all day is not great for eye health, so it's imperative to take a meaningful lunch break, if only to step away from devices and let your eyes rest.
3. Lunch is a good time for self-care
Not only are you giving up on an hour of rest, but it’s so easy to use part of your WFH lunch break for a healthy, self-care activity that you might not otherwise have energy for by the end of the day or time before in the mornings before starting your workday. In addition to eating a healthy lunch, proactively use the break for exercise, meditation or just some quiet downtime away from emails and phone / zoom calls. Foods such as fish, seeds, nuts, blueberries and wholegrains are particularly good for boosting a healthy brain.
4. Give your immune system a midday boost
Going for a brisk afternoon walk is great for health and wellness. Research at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health shows a direct relationship between the air we breathe with our ability to process information, make strategic decisions and respond to problems effectively. If you don’t have enough time to step out of the house to your nearest neighbourhood park, just go for a quick walk around the block at the very least. Bonus: Brisk walking helps sharpen the senses. It improves key brain functions for memory, learning, and cognition. So don’t be afraid of going outside – it will give your immune system a much-needed shot of natural Vitamin D.
5. Practice mindful eating
Your nutrition, particularly your glucose intake, decides your productivity for the day. Needless to say, being mindful (present) whilst eating is a healthy habit. All too often we’re grabbing a bite on the run or eating mindlessly in front of the TV. A study conducted by Harvard University found that people who ate whilst distracted actually ate more food, while those who ate mindfully actually consumed less as they paid attention to what they ate. Another side effect of distracted eating usually translates into unhealthy snacking later on in the day, as the body craves junk and unrefined carbohydrates for energy to keep going. Taking a proper mindful break can help you not overeat, while also aiding better digestion.